Get snap-happy with the new Nikon D3400 and SnapBridge

Nikon’s always been committed to proving that the DSLR doesn’t have to be a bulky instrument. Nikon’s D300 series of camera bodies prioritizes light weight, compact design and ease of use, all while maintaining the benefits which come with an interchangeable lens system. So far, each of Nikon’s models that hold the D3 prefix have offered approachable, yet reasonably powerful solutions for those wanting to get started with photography — plus some extra growing space as users’ confidence increases.

The D3400 is Nikon’s latest contribution to the D3000 series, and is (somewhat obviously) the successor to the popular D3300, and the D3200 that came before it. While not a complete overhaul of its predecessor, the D3400’s guts have had an upgrade — some weight has been shaved off the body, a number of specs were improved, and features have been further tailored to amateur shooters. To make it an even more superior proposition for amateur and enthusiast shooters, the D3400 actually teaches you how to use it with step-by-step instructions, right in the camera. Or, for those still wary of switching to manual, stunning imagery can be captured in auto-mode — with nearly 100 years of Nikon know-how programmed into the D3400 for outstanding, effortless results.

Inspired by one of Nikon’s ads for the D3400 — the mouth-watering hamburger featured within our latest issue — the D-Photo team geared up for a feast, as we set off on an afternoon of eating and drinking (and, of course, photography too). Beautifully sharp, the D3400 rendered the delicate range of textures and colours across the various plates that arrived to our table.

At 24.2 megapixels on an APS-C sensor, it wields the same resolution as the D3300, and Nikon has removed the anti-aliasing filter to deliver sharp, stunning results. With an update to an Expeed 4 imaging engine, the D3400 boasts an even better noise profile in low light — bringing the imaging system into similar territory to the pro-grade D5300 when shooting within a restaurant’s dim ambience, or simply away from direct light.

In addition, the top end of the D3400’s ISO range now stretches to 25,600, allowing even more possibilities with our incredibly visual subject. This is important too, as camera-mounted flashes are generally off limits when capturing food, as directional light from a single source flattens dishes, erases subtle light variations, and dispels natural shadows.

Of course, having a fast lens with consistent illumination from edge to edge helps — and we had to choose between the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G, the Nikkor 85mm F/1.8 G, and the Nikkor 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 G. Of these lenses, the AF-P DX Nikkor 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 G VR is included in the kit. It boasts a retractable design, making the lens more portable when it’s not in use. It’s also equipped with Nikon’s Stepping Motor technology for quick, smooth and quiet autofocus, and offers up to four stops of image stabilization to combat the effects of camera shake and blur. Being a zoom lens, it’s extremely versatile, with enough reach to fill the frame for a variety of subjects.

But now that we’ve got the tech and spec out of the way, here’s the real talking point of the D3400: SnapBridge. In just the time it took for our server to pour water for the table, we downloaded the free SnapBridge app and connected the D3400 to a smartphone. From there on, images automatically transferred to the device.

As the first entry-level DSLR to boast the company’s SnapBridge software, it means that no Wi-Fi is required. First introduced with the D500, a more expensive prosumer DSLR, SnapBridge is an always-on bluetooth low-energy connection that lets the camera automatically transfer images to any smartphone or tablet. It works instantly and seamlessly through Nikon’s Image Space, a cloud storage and sharing site — and it means that you can easily share your shots however, and to whoever, you choose.

For more information on the Nikon D3400 18–55mm kit, visit nikon.co.nz or head to your local photo retailer.